Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:02 UK

Burma rejects foreign criticism

By Jonathan Head
BBC South East Asia correspondent

People Demand Release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Japan on 25 May
Ms Suu Kyi's trial has drawn international condemnation

The Burmese government has rejected foreign criticism of the charges against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as interference from abroad.

Speaking at a meeting of EU and South East Asian ministers in Cambodia, the deputy foreign minister insisted that her trial was not a human rights issue.

US President Barack Obama has called Ms Suu Kyi's hearing a show trial.

The regional group Asean recently warned Burma that its honour and credibility were at stake.

The trial entered its ninth day on Thursday, with more testimony from the American who swam to Ms Suu Kyi's house.

'Internal issue'

Faced with a barrage of criticism over their prosecution of the country's most popular politician, the Burmese authorities have made small concessions - for example allowing journalists and diplomats to observe two days of the mainly closed trial.

But their determination to produce a guilty verdict against Aung San Suu Kyi has never been in doubt.

Now the military government has lashed back at its critics. "We don't accept pressure and interference from abroad," said Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint.

"The case against Aung San Suu Kyi is an internal legal issue," he said.

Ms Suu Kyi is being charged with violating house arrest regulations, because an American man who said he had been instructed by God to save her, managed to swim to her house across a lake.

She faces a prison sentence of between three and five years if found guilty, a near-certain outcome, according to diplomats in the country.

When that happens there will be more outrage from around the world, and probably plenty in Burma too, although that is unlikely to be expressed openly.

But Burma's rulers will press grimly on with their plans for an election next year - an election in which the opposition will be allowed to play only a marginal role, if any.

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